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Helicopters fight frost at Niagara wineries

October 14, 2014  By The Weather Network

Oct. 14, 2014, Niagara Falls, Ont. - The fall can be a tricky time for Niagara wineries. With inconsistent temperatures and the possibility of hitting the freezing line, frosty conditions can kill flourishing vineyards. However, farmers are not just accepting mother natures cool blast they are teaming up with Niagara Helicopters and requesting a special service.

Rene Huessy, Chief Pilot for Niagara Helicopter Tours, explains, “As
helicopters fly over the vineyards we are moving the air just above the
ground with the downwash and mixing it with hot exhaust gases. This is
enough to prevent the plants from freezing.”

Keeping on top of the weather is key with the practice. When frost
warnings go into place Huessy comments that he has to sleep with one eye
open as the request calls usually start at 3 or 4 a.m in the morning. 

farmers will usually request the service when temperatures are going
down to 3 C, even as low as -2C. The time we spend flying over the
vineyards depends on the acres we have to cover, we can effectively
cover fifty acres in about twenty-five minutes.“ says Huessy. 

practice has been done by Niagara Helicopters for about 17 years, and
some vineyards in California are also using the same practice. 


also mentions, “the spring is usually when we get out most calls –
April and May are busy. But unfortunately this is a dying business as
the helicopters are getting replaced by windmills.”


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